kruizing with kikukat

Monday, January 13, 2014

Remembering Vovo: Portuguese Bean Soup

It's too early to be thinking about salads, that's for sure!  With the fickle weather we've been having, it's hard to tell if I should pack up the electric blanket or buy more UGGs.  Most of last week was so cold that I wore boots to work multiple times.  Then on Friday, by afternoon, it seemed like summer was about to begin.  My short-sleeve Manuheali`i blouse was perfect WITHOUT a jacket!  I had to re-think the weather on Saturday. . .once again we were treated to a major light show.  The kats and mastiffs were not happy with the accompanying thunder.  And yesterday was another quasi-summery day. . .t-shirt & crop pants weather.

It will be interesting to see what kind of weather we will have this week.  There will be a visiting group of asses coming from Honolulu to assess our school (nyuk nyuk) and tell us why we suddenly suck.  This is what I don't get.  A few months ago, our school was a "continuous improvement" school.  Then someone in a monkey suit (I'm sure this is a person who wears Reyn Spooner inside-out print shirts) realized he made a "calculation" error, and suddenly our school became a "focus" school.  We are still the same school that was praised for being in continuous improvement. . .nothing changed, but now, because we have a different label, the rules of the game have changed.  And I bet that idiot who made the calculation error did not even attend our school!  So since a large team is coming, they will need to find something wrong in order to justify their trip. 

And leave it to the state to go looking for trouble.  I live in a state where kindergarten is not mandatory.  Now the state is creating preschools at select schools.  We can't even get the compulsory kindergarten right yet they wanna dive into preschool.  State DOE preschools w/o mandatory kindergarten is definitely gonna be a clusterfuck.  I can't believe the state (upper-level, not the teachers) is so stupid.

Oh well. . .I'm just glad I survived last week.  It's always hard to go back to work after a vacation, and last week was no exception.  I have a challenging student, and while I'm itching to tell him where he can go stick it, I took the higher road and gave him suggestions on how to curry favor with the parents of his flavor-of-the-month. . .hoping some if it will rub off in the classroom.  I also reminded myself that in a little over 4 months, he will no longer be my problem (and he better not even think about dating D1!). 

For the most part though, it was nice to be back at work.  I can't remember the last time when I didn't totally dread going back to work after a vacation.  And after seeing facebook posts from people I used to work with, I'm even more grateful to be where I am today.  I'm amazed at what I've observed over the past few years.  Five years ago, I would have believed that people in poverty-stricken areas would be grateful for whatever they receive.  Now I know different.  Many are not grateful.  Many shamelessly ask what else they will get.  This is not what the books say.  I am just glad to be where I am.  Most students and parents are awesome.  Most of my colleagues and all the bosses are competent.  This is way more that I can say about that OTHER place.

Perhaps this is why I didn't mind the boss asking us to be in our rooms this week when the visiting team does their sleuthing.  It's not difficult to want to please the guy. . .to want to make him look good.  He is a really nice man, and I would be pissed if any member of the visiting team disrespects him.  I will tow the line. . .no going to pick up lunch this week.  I will be bringing leftovers. . .leftover Portuguese Bean Soup (PBS).

I used to make PBS from a recipe I found in a cookbook.  But ever since The Help arrived, he has taken over the PBS-making duties.  This recipe is a modified version of the original recipe, which came from his vovo (Portuguese for grandmother).  Here is what puzzles me. . .in many cookbooks I've read, instructions always say to cook beans fully before adding acidic ingredients.  But The Help dumps everything in the pot at the same time, and the soup turns out great every time.  I just don't get it. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb kidney beans, soaked overnight and drained
     3 ham hocks
     1 ring Portuguese sausage, chopped
     2 round onions, chopped
     2 cloves garlic, chopped
     1 small bunch parsley, chopped
     1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
     2 1/2 quarts warm water
     salt & pepper to taste

Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for 3 hours.

This is one of those dishes which only gets better over days.  I don't like to find bones in my soup, so The Help removes the ham hock bones as the hocks begin to disintegrate.  He also removes the rubbery skin.